Priest, Cherie. Wings to the Kingdom. 2006. New York City: Tor.
It is no secret that places where people have died violent deaths tend to draw spirits. Every battlefield there has ever been has been at one point or another been said to be haunted. That is just par for the course; however, if Wings to the Kingdom were solely about a battlefield haunted by the ghosts of the fallen, I do not think it would have been nearly as good.
Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest is a fast read because it sucks you in from the beginning. The opening scene is a picnic luncheon being held on the grounds of the Chickamauga National Park (a section of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park). Men and women eating sandwiches and having punch, as seen through the eyes of a ghost who is trying desperately to reach them and deliver a message imperative to the spirits of the field: Old Green Eyes is gone. Unfortunately, the spirit is unable to speak once he does make contact, settling for pointing the picnickers in the direction they need to go looking in before vanishing completely.
Chickamauga, Georgia is located in Walker County which is on the Georgia/Tennessee border. The Battle of Chickamauga (and reason for the protected land) was fought in September of 1863 and is commemorated annually as “War Between the States Day” on the third weekend in September.
The first ghostly appearance is followed by several others, all of whom do the same thing: they appear, point, and disappear leaving people to wonder what exactly is going on. Enter our heroine: Eden Moore. Eden is a medium, capable of contacting spirits, a skill she would rather she did not have. Yet she gets drawn into the quest to find Old Green Eyes through a combination of curiosity and coincidence. Her half-brother, Malachi, causing her to have a run in with the Spirit/Creature being one of those coincidences.
It is her curiosity which drives her to take a few friends on an expedition into the park, which ends in people being shot at and one person dying. This is a gripping section as everyone scatters into the mist and it becomes very apparent the man shooting fully intends to kill anyone he comes across. I thought it was very well done.
In the end, Eden convinces Old Green Eyes to return to his post as the guardian of the battlefield despite his former ‘contract’ running out and all is returned to normal. Right after Old Green Eyes throws the man responsible for the shootings off the tower.
Wings to the Kingdom is Cherie Priest’s second book following up the success of Four and Twenty Blackbirds which came out in 2005.
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